The Admirals Club guide

Why shuffle around the duty-free shops at the airport when you could be relaxing in your nearest American Airlines Admirals Club?

Many of the Admirals Club lounges offer views to the tarmac. Image credit: American Airlines
Many of the Admirals Club lounges offer views to the tarmac. Image credit: American Airlines

What is the Admirals Club?

If you want to take the stress out of flying, do yourself a favor and walk through the door of your nearest American Airlines Admirals Club. This membership-based program gives you access to more than 45 lounges throughout the U.S. and 60 partner lounges across the U.S. and abroad.

The club was created by the American Airlines president C.R. Smith as a marketing promotion after he was made an honorary Texas Ranger. He wanted to make his particularly valued passengers feel like “admirals” of the American Airlines “Flagship Fleet”, which was marketed using a nautical theme. So in 1936, the first Admirals Club members were announced. Those invited to the club were celebrities, politicians, VIPs, and customers who had been particularly loyal to American Airlines.

At that point, there was no Admirals Club lounge, members simply received framed certificates they could place on their office wall. The world’s first airport lounge was created in 1939, when American Airlines turned New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s press conference room at the airport into the first Admirals Club. The club lounge maintained its nautical theme – the receptionists were called “skippers” and the bar staff were called “stewards”.

If you’re a bit of a history buff, you might also be interested to know that the second Admirals Club was in Washington Airport, which didn’t have a liquor licence, so members stored their own bottles there. At one point the club was looking after 9,000 bottles.

Becoming a member of the Admirals Club was by invitation-only until 1967, when American Airlines decided to give everyone the chance to enjoy the VIP experience by paying a  yearly membership fee.

What you get as an Admirals Club member

The Admirals Club lounge is designed to be your home away from home. It takes you away from the hubbub of the terminal and gives you the chance to relax before you hit the runway. As you walk through the door of your chosen Admirals Club, you’ll find armchairs to relax on, steaming pots of coffee or chilled glasses of wine, and TVs to keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the outside world.

If you want to freshen up between flights, you can step into one of the shower suites, then enjoy house drinks at the bar or quash any hunger pangs by visiting the snack bar to enjoy bagels, oatmeal, and fresh fruit and yogurt in the morning or hearty soups, healthy grain salad, and cookies if you stop by in the afternoon. You will also be able to keep those energy levels high by enjoying freshly-brewed La Colombe coffee and barista-style espresso and lattes.  

The Admirals Club lounge at JFK is one of the Club's most impressive. Image credit: American Airlines
The Admirals Club lounge at JFK is one of the Club’s most impressive. Image credit: American Airlines

If you need to check in with the office while you’re there, you can visit the business center and take a seat at one of the designer chairs, which are set in front of each computer terminal. Or, if you have your team traveling with you and you want to brainstorm in private, you can book one of the Admirals Club’s conference rooms. You’ll have no fear of missing your flight, as the Admirals Club also features reservation agents who will be there to assist you with your travel.

An American Airlines spokesperson said in a recent press release: “Our goal is to create spaces that are more in line with how people live and spend their time today.”

In 2016, American Airlines kickstarted the largest makeover in the brand’s history of its Admirals Club lounge design, with updated furnishings, dynamic lighting, improved access to power, and a fresh, consistent design across its network. The first Admiral Club lounges to receive the makeover were in São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Admirals Clubs at JFK Airport, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Miami International Airport came next, with the announcement of a further 12 to follow.

In October 2018, American Airlines and LAX broke ground on a 1.6 million USD modernization project of Terminals 4 and 5 at LAX, where two Admirals Clubs are located. It marked the largest individual investment American Airlines has made at an airport in its 92-year history. At the launch, American Airlines Senior Vice President Suzanne Boda said it was an “exciting time” for American Airlines.

“Our $1.6 billion investment will transform the customer experience at LAX,” she said.

“We’re investing back into our business and the communities we serve.”

Where to find Admirals Clubs

Admirals Clubs can be found all over the U.S., but you don’t need to travel far to find one. If you are in New York, visit Terminal 8 to find the Admirals club at JFK. Open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., you will be able to take advantage of complimentary Wi-Fi, PCs with internet access, showers, and snacks before you step on the plane. If you have your kids with you, they can also check out the children’s room.

If you are in in Los Angeles and catching a flight from LAX, you will find three Admirals Clubs in LAX. The largest one is at Terminal 4, which comes with a conference room for brainstorming and a quiet room for a little me-time. The Los Angeles’ clubs stay open longer, usually until 12.30 a.m.

Miami International Airport also has three locations. The Admirals Club at Gate D30 is the largest out of the there, and it comes with free Wi-Fi as well as an eight-seater conference room if you want to make that layover more productive. It is the perfect place to sign that paperwork after closing your deal. Those who are doing a tour of Florida will be pleased to know there is also an Admirals Club in Orlando.

If you are in Chicago, you’ll find three Admirals Club lounges to choose from at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. At Charlotte Douglas International Airport, you can kick back in two Admirals Club lounges, but be aware, these two lounges are not accessible to guests holding one-day passes. However, an added bonus of the Admirals Clubs in Charlotte Douglas International Airport, JFK, and LAX is that each of these lounges come with a view so you can look out over the various runways or catch the aircrafts taking flight as you sip on another hot espresso.

Admirals Club lounges offer a homely feel. Image credit: Admirals Club
Admirals Club lounges offer a homely feel. Image credit: American Airlines

Get more from the American Airlines Admirals Club membership

The fact that when you become a member of the Admirals Club you immediately gain access to 60 partnership lounges can’t be ignored. One of the partnership lounges available is The Qantas Club in Singapore, whic is so big it’s divided into zones. With its leather recliners, dishes created by celebrity Australian chef Neil Perry, bar, and shower room area, it feels more like a penthouse suite than an airport lounge.

Another partnership lounge is the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge at Frankfurt, where the bathroom facilities are state-of-the-art.

The Marco Polo Lounge in Venice is also open to Admirals Club members. With vines and trees decorating the lounge, and marble covering every centimeter of the bathroom, you may forget you’re there on business. Enjoy plates of rich Italian pasta, get your sweet fix with a crispy pastry, then relax in the media room with your own TV.  

How can you join the Admirals Club?

There are a few different ways that you can join the club. You can join as an individual from 550 USD per year, as a household from 1,150 USD per year, or you can pay for your annual membership in air miles. If you spend more time in the air than on the ground, this could be an easy option for you.

Complimentary membership to the Admirals Club can be achieved if you are already a member of another American Airlines club or one of its affiliates. If you have a Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, ConciergeKey membership or carry an AAirpass, you will receive a complimentary Admirals Club membership. And if you are a U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform on a same-day flight operated by American Airlines, you are also welcomed into the Admirals Club lounge.

If you are flying first class with American Airlines you will also get immediate entry to the Admirals Club and you have the option to also take a guest. If you are flying first class or business class on any One World flight within the U.S., you can also gain access to the Admirals Club at your chosen location.

How much is an Admirals Club Day Pass?

If you want to try a club before you buy a membership, or have just been caught on the hop in-transit, you can gain access to the Admirals Clubs in the U.S. for just 59 USD a day. Once you’ve bought an Admirals Club day pass, you can use it at other Admirals Clubs in the U.S. on the same day. So if you’re hopping between destinations for meetings, you can still enjoy a moment of relaxation in a familiar space.

If you already have a membership and want to buy a day pass for someone else, you can also do this by buying passes at the airport or online. If you don’t have a membership and decide to join within 30 days of using your pass, American Airlines will deduct the price of the day pass from your annual membership, and then you’ll then be able to gain access to the international partner lounges too.

Special Admirals Clubs you can book into

While there are so many Admirals Clubs to choose from, two of particular note are the Admirals Club in Terminal A at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and the Admirals Club in Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, Texas.

The Admirals Club in Dallas not only features its own gym where you can burn some calories in your downtime, but it also gives you the chance to enjoy some quiet time with Bose headphones, offered to guests during their visit. The Admirals Club in Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, on the other hand, has its own putting green. Never thought that you would be partaking in a round of golf between flights, did you?

If you want to arrive at your meeting feeling as relaxed as if you have spent the morning on the golf course, the Admirals Club could be just what you need. Carry on that feeling by booking a professional Blacklane airport transfer to get you to your destination in style.


Claire Turrell

Freelance journalist Claire Turrell has lived and worked in London, Dubai, and Singapore. When she’s not busy writing, she is riding motorbikes off-road in Cambodia, diving in Oman or learning Muay Thai in Thailand.